Last week a talented group of athletes and their coaches gathered for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in hopes of bringing home the gold. Athletes from all 50 states and the Caribbean competed in 19 different sports, including a team of athletes who call western Kentucky home who finished fourth in the country in their sport.
The Marshall County Flag Football team, consisting of eight athletes and two coaches, were amongst the 5,000 athletes and coaches in Orlando to compete in the games.
They were one of 23 teams competing for gold in Flag Football.
Competition started on Monday, June 6 and ran through Friday, June 10. In route to their fourth place victory, the Marshall County team played a total of five games throughout the week.
“It was an awesome experience,” Coach Jonny Byrd said. “It was a long week, playing five days a week in the heat; the biggest accomplishment is they made it.”
The Marshall County team started their journey against Maryland, narrowly falling 26-24. From there they played the District of Columbia, losing 56-7, and snagged their first win against Texas, 35-12 on Wednesday.
The win put the team in contention of a medal finish, but still had one more game to play before determining which medal they would be playing for.
From there they took on the northern neighbors of western Kentucky, the Illinois flag football team.
They started off strong, holding a 13-12 lead heading into halftime, but that lead would dwindle as Illinois won 25-13.
The only thing standing in the way of a bronze medal for team Kentucky was team Pennsylvania. The bronze medal game took place on Friday where the Marshall County team fell short 31-12, earning them an impressive fourth-place finish.
“For me it was a very humbling experience to see athletes with special needs of all ages there and very in tune to what they needed to do,” Byrd said upon returning back to Marshall County High School with the team. “It was awesome.”
As for what is next, Coach Byrd says his athletes deserve a few well deserved couple of months off before the upcoming season begins in September.